The Crown Estate for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland has this week confirmed plans to unlock up to 4GW of floating wind power capacity in the Celtic Sea "and help establish a new industrial sector for the UK."
It said Thursday that the leasing process would deliver enough new capacity to provide electricity for almost four million more households, as well as creating opportunities for significant new investment in jobs, skills, and infrastructure.
The Crown Estate said there'd be a focus on two key project categories - early-commercial scale projects (of circa 300-350MW); and full-commercial scale projects (of up to 1GW).
The plan includes leasing designed at a pace and scale to support supply chain and infrastructure development, helping to underpin a sustainable future for the sector, and ensure Wales, the South West, and the wider UK benefit from the industrial opportunity, the Crown Estate said.
The leasing process could see rights awarded by the end of 2023, with projects delivered from 2030 into the early part of the next decade.
The Crown Estate said it would start the next stages of its engagement with market and stakeholders on the floating wind program, which will take place in two phases over the winter of 2021/22.
Phase one of this engagement will focus on the spatial design, gathering data and evidence to help inform the location of project sites.
Phase two will invite views on the design of the market tender and the wider considerations of the program, including on supply chain, ports, and grid, as well as community benefits, such as skills and employment.
To ensure a coordinated approach to assessing potential environmental impacts, the Llŷr and White Cross test and demonstration scale projects (announced earlier this year) will form part of the Plan-Level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) for floating wind in the Celtic Sea.
Huub den Rooijen, Managing Director of Marine at The Crown Estate: "Floating wind technology offers a powerful opportunity to open up the renewable energy resources of the Celtic Sea, helping to tackle the climate crisis with additional clean power and ignite a new industrial sector.
"We are focused on realizing this potential in a way that supports the development of the regional supply chain and infrastructure, protects our marine environment, and harnesses the opportunity for local communities.
“We look forward to working closely with UK and Welsh government, regional authorities, the market and stakeholders to establish this emerging sector and reinforce the UK’s position as the world leaders in offshore wind.”
Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: "The UK is a world leader in offshore wind deployment and floating technology is going to be vital in ensuring we meet our target of delivering 1GW of floating offshore wind by 2030 – a key part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan.
"Today’s proposals by The Crown Estate to expand our offshore wind capacity will help unlock the full potential of the UK’s seas, creating high-skilled jobs and driving investment – all while supporting the delivery of clean energy to millions of homes across the country.”